The Lukewarm Butterknife

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 13.3.1

Apr. 1, 2010

"According to his daughter, ‘He was consumed by patriotism.’
He often said, ‘I owe all my success to my adopted country,’
and once rejected his lawyers' advice to invest in tax shelters,
insisting, ‘I want to pay taxes. I love this country’."

- Wikipedia on Irving Berlin

"Two years ago I was in Europe. It was the time of the Munich
conference. Democracies were kowtowing to dictators, and one
wondered when grasping hands would be stretched farther. When
I got back, Kate Smith wanted a song that would sort of wake
up America. I sat down and tried to write one. I made several
efforts, but everything I wrote was too definite. I had been
too close to what had happened, and concrete events are not
what I wanted to sing about. Suddenly I remembered the song
I had laid aside twenty years before. I got it out and went
over it and made a few changes and found it hit the nail on
the head. It’s not a patriotic song, but rather an expression
of gratitude for what this country has done for its citizens,
of what home really means."

- Irving Berlin, about “God Bless America”

"Ich bin ein Fireaxer."

- Irving Berlin, after rising from his grave and hearing
the Fireaxe version of “God Bless America”

According to Wikipedia...

As a child in Russia, Irving Berlin, then named Israel Baline, watched his house burned to the ground by the Cossacks who were rampaging on a pogrom against Jews.

Growing up in the ghettoes of New York City he used to sing for pennies, once delivering a rendition of “Yankee Doodle Boy” so heart-rending that not only did he receive a rousing round of applause but the owner is reputed to have told him, “'You know what you are, me boy? You're the Yiddishe Yankee Doodle!"

In 1911 he revived a style of music known as “Ragtime” which would go on to become an international dance craze as well as an international scandal. At the time there was a cultural struggle going on between the conservative Victorians and those seeking liberation from such strict cultural norms and Berlin’s hysteria-producing music fanned the flames of change.

In 1917 Irving was drafted into the army, not to fight, but to compose patriotic music for the soldiers. That he did and did it well for he truly loved his country and the opportunities it had given him. About his duty to his country he would write "we must speak with the sword not the pen to show our appreciation to America for opening up her heart and welcoming every immigrant group."

With all this in mind I offer my satire of one of Irving Berlin’s most famous songs. Perhaps it will remind people that the phrase “God Bless America” was intended as a neutral expression of admiration for one’s country and not as a religiously loaded bludgeon to wield against those of different faiths and especially not to alienate those of no faith. In many ways the sentiments that Berlin put into the song run directly counter to those of true believers who would like to think that their god has some kind of special significance in the United States. To them I’d like to say, no, the Constitution does not mention any “god”, it draws its powers exclusively from “We The People” a truly revolutionary concept at the time of its writing, and that your god’s reputation is not nearly as benevolent as you believe it to be. This country was founded on tolerance and has benefitted greatly because of it, so if you do not feel that there is room in the United States for my parody then the problem is exclusively yours.

And now, humor. Well, possibly the following is funny.

God Makes Us Hate and Kill

New Fireaxe music is available for download! No foolin’.

It’s baseball season again here in the United States and that means all of us atheist baseball fans will once again be subjected to frequent renditions of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch regardless of how offensive it may be to hear, and sometimes be forced to participate in, something which is annoyingly close to being a Christian hymn. Ah yes, the brilliance of Commissioner Bud Selig will be on display once more as he seems to suggest that the cure to the September Eleventh terrorist attacks, which were perpetrated by religious fanatics, is the become more religious ourselves, or at least to display our love for our gods in public for all to see. Many Christians seem to agree; after all public prayer is something that Jesus talked about so it has to be a good thing, right? Except that, umm, Jesus didn’t seem to approve of it, hmm.

But far be it from me to doubt Bud Selig’s morality. Why, who can forget all those times he turned the other cheek, or at least looked the other way when his players were pumping their veins full of testosterone, human growth hormone, androstenedione, the “cream” and the “clear”, and who knows what all else, and laying waste to some of the most sacred records in all of Major League Baseball. Yes, the only way that Bud could be more morally upstanding is if he were caught covering up a bat boy molestation scandal.

But instead of groaning your way through another rendition of religious hyper-patriotism you can now lift your voices with an alternate version of “God Bless America” which portrays something closer to the reality of religion as opposed to the virtual reality that many believers are trapped inside. Lyrics please:

God makes us hate and kill
In the name of love,
Adoration of salvation,
And the lie in the sky up above.
From the Christians to the Muslims
To the Hindus and the Jews,
God makes us hate and kill
To win his love.
God makes us hate and kill
To save the earth.

Also included is the bonus track “Hail to the Chief”, originally written in honor of George W. Bush, but which I will sing proudly about every sitting president until such time as all Americans get their rights back:

Hail to the chief he’s the chief of the police state.
Don’t piss him off or he’ll throw your ass in jail.
You won’t get a trial and you won’t get a lawyer,
So buy yourself a flag and send your son to war.

And the classic satire “Everything is Bullshit” is also still available online.

Ending Comments

I, like Irving Berlin, recognize the opportunities that I have been given in the United States and thus I will continue to fight for my country even if it means fighting against it at times. My weapon of choice is a Fireaxe and I use it to open up minds and set fire to preconceived notions and ideological disinformation. In my public life I work, I earn, I pay taxes, and I lead a very ethical life. So allow me to have my say, offensive as it may be.

Brian Voth - Creator of Fireaxe

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